Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Box Top Saga

Oftentimes throughout my garage sale travels, I encounter some pretty interesting people. Women who insist that I come into their houses to see their decor, men who tell me long-winded tales about their boyhood experiences, and well-meaning people who tell me the past life tale of every artifact on sale in their garage. Unfortunately, along with the quirky folks come the not-so-friendly ones.

I really don't appreciate mean people in general, but crabby garage sale hosts really dampen the mood. I'm sure it's something like a pouty Disney World employee (though I've never seen one) - quite unnatural and very contradictory amidst a backdrop of joyous junk purchasing. Debbie Downers. Negative Nancies. Ya know?

Anyway. So a couple of weeks ago I  was browsing at a garage sale and saw a Rubbermaid bin filled with odds and ends. Usually, this means that the junk inside is not part of the more important merchandise - pieces, fragments, unknown doo dads, and whatnot. This particular bin had covers to plastic tupperware, half-colored coloring books, broken McDonald's toys, ceramic coffee mugs that had been stained brown from years of use, and at the bottom, a particularly charming wicker box top. The box top looked like it had once been paired with a box, but was discarded once the box proved to be useful without it. Just a little wicker box lid. Imagine this, but just the lid (and a lot smaller):

You may be thinking - "now why in the world would she want to buy the lid to a box, without the darn box?!" Well, my dear readers - I have strange visions. I see dead people. Just kidding. Really though, I see potential. I see craft items in pieces of junk. When I saw this box top, I thought that it would make a great picture holder, collage, or centerpiece accent. Who knows? But I wanted it. And I wanted it for cheap.

I walked over to the lady, holding the box top that I just salvaged from the bottom of a bin filled with the  other garage sale misfits, and asked the owner the price. Here is our conversation:

Me: Excuse me, ma'am. How much are you asking for this? (Holding up the box lid)
Lady: That? 50 cents.
Me: Alright, thank you. Would you take a quarter?
Lady: (with a snippy attitude) Absolutely not. I'll take 50 cents.
Me: Ok then.
Lady: I still have a couple hours of my sale left, you know. I'm not just going to GIVE the stuff away.

Alright lady...I get it. Chill. But I go to a lot of garage sales. I will encounter HUNDREDS of box lids in my day, and I will pay a quarter (or less) for all of them. I didn't want the box top THAT badly - especially after the little attitude she pulled on me. I put the box top back, and headed to my next sale. I sure didn't appreciate the mean lady anyhow.

A week passes. It is a Friday.

As I'm driving around at garage sales, I see the same lady's sign up again. I recognized it because her poor attitude was burned into my memory, and somehow, so was her street name. I decided to go back, mostly for my own satisfaction. You see, I KNEW the box lid would still be there. No doubt in my mind. No one else would buy a box lid from a garage sale except me (and maybe my crafty aunt - but that's about it). Also, it was obvious that if the lady was having a sale for a second weekend in a row, she must not have done too well at her first one. Either that, or she had a lot left to sell. The box top was mine.

I walked up the driveway with a little smirk on my face. Well, it might have been just in my head - but I remember physically trying to hold back my grin. I wonder if the lady recognized me. Probably. Oh, well. What did I care?  I walked right up to the same old bin, filled with the same old junk. There, right where I left it, was my little box lid. Our second encounter:

Me: Excuse me, ma'am. How much are you asking for this? (holding up the box lid once again)
Lady: (quickly) 75 cents.
Me: Hmm. Would you take a quarter by any chance?
Lady: No. I'll take 75 cents.

So now I'm mad. I'm just plain irritated. Not only does the lady fail to sell her PRECIOUS box lid during her first weekend sale (three whole days), but she RAISES her prices? We're not talking about furniture, here. Lady, this isn't some heirloom.  Stick to your guns when it comes to selling your vacuum cleaner. Say the "price is firm" when you're talking about a collectable. BUT A LITTLE BOX LID? You're killin' me here!

Needless to say, I left. No box lid, and a bad mood. I was not a fan of this chick.

Two days pass. It's a Sunday. I am driving home from breakfast with my husband when I see her sign again. Since I don't give up easily, I thought we'd swing by for one more go at the box top. At this point, it wasn't about the box top anymore. It was about something much bigger - my pride, and my reputation as the garage sale queen. There was a lot at stake.

Since the lady perhaps had a personal grudge against me for some reason, I thought it might be a good idea to send my husband in for the win. I gave him a single quarter, and with a serious expression and hope in my eyes, bid him adieu, hoping he'd come back with my box top in hand. Since it was the last day of her sale (now the sixth total), I thought she'd definitely be willing to let go of the box top for twenty-five cents. Once again, there was no doubt in my mind - the box lid was still there. After a while of explaining exactly what the heck he was looking for, I sent my husband in to finish the battle I started. We're a team, you know.

I slid the passenger car seat all the way into the reclined position so that "my friend" wouldn't see me. It felt so official...kinda like a secret spy mission. After about three minutes, I saw my husband walking back to the car - EMPTY HANDED. Womp womp. Here's how it all went down:

Bill: Excuse me, how much is this ?(holding up the box lid, who by this point has gotten its hopes up far too many times)
Lady: 50 cents.
Bill: Would you take a quarter?
Lady: No. 50 cents.

So there you have it. The evil woman has her previous lid, and I am lid-less. Such is life. Hope she loves it, cherishes it, and makes something beautiful out of it like I would have.

You may think I'm crazy. Some of you are thinking, "so why didn't you just pay the darn 50 cents?" It's the principle of the thing. At that point, it was a competition, and I was not about to stoop to her level. She wasn't going to win the box top challenge. Not on my watch!

Take Time for Lemonade,


  1. I have no doubt in my mind that the battle is not over. This lady will be out there again...maybe not be this week, this month, or anytime this year. I feel confident that this lady will be out in her garage again selling her wares and you will be ready to go in for the strike. Quitters never win and winners never quit. Let me know when you are the proud owner of a wicker box top that cost 25 cents! Make me proud and show her not to mess with a professional!

  2. I hope she knows that you will be at her house on garbage day, pulling that lid out of her garbage and laughing. Silly silly woman.

  3. It's alright, dear. She still has her precious box top, but you got the better of the deal because you didn't cave. It's a matter of principle. She may not have gotten much with a quarter, but it would have benefited her more than that box top will!

  4. This post seriously cracks me up. I missed that you started a blog. LOVE reading about your finds! Next you need to join Twitter!

  5. Oooh. I am staying away from Twitter. I just don't understand it! Besides, I'm pretty sure another link on my "favorites" would throw me over the edge. Isn't it the same as a facebook status, in a way?

  6. Krissie...send me and my mama one of those invites you were talking about??-Kimmer